From the Trenches

Aiming for the middle ground.



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"A room without books is like a body without a soul."— Marcus Tullius Cicero

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Posts tagged "Professional Development"

My aunt - who was a high school English teacher for almost 30 years - got me this Great Courses DVD set on the best practices of teaching.  Thought I’d sit down with it and type out my notes here, because I’m such a professional student that I can’t remember much unless I write it down.  It’s not so much that I’ll go back and read it, but more that the physical act of writing cements the information into my brain.  

And I figured maybe some of you could get something from it, too.  So I’ll set my notes down as I watch, and see if anything cool comes out of it.  

From The Art of Teaching: Best Practices from a Master Educator from The Great Courses (Professor Patrick N. Allitt from Emory University)

  • Yay, a professor who understands that students are not all ready, willing, empty brains waiting to be filled!  
  • Concerned at this point that this will be directed more toward higher education rather than secondary.
  • Dealing with material in lectures, powerpoint, student participation in seminars, getting students to do the assignments, evaluation, proper training, teaching ability, equality v. inequality (theoretically), quality of discussion classes, etc.
  • Yes, talking more about college teaching, but perhaps this is good for high school as well, especially since I’ve got 11th graders who are mostly college bound.
  • He believes that the classroom should be a bit uncomfortable, but is happy to be contradicted…I may agree with him a bit. I’ll have to explore that a bit.
  • Teaching benefits from experience, and you should try to keep getting better at it.
  • Society benefits from passing on the great mass of knowledge it has generated.
  • Aiming at “universal literacy” is new to education
  • Need to create “life-long learners” because the information will change and the students need to be able to adapt and acclimate.
  • "If you can overcome the temptation to procrastinate…it’s all going to work out."
  • What was it about the great teachers you had and what is it about them you try to emulate?
  • The possibility that what students hate might be “lovable” in a sense.
  • Teachers must be willing to be self-aware and “self-critical”. 
  • Try having yourself filmed while you’re teaching. What is too distracting and what encourages learning.
  • "What do I want my students to remember from this course five years from now?"
  • "Teachers’ high" - like a "runners’ high" - I’ve had this!!!!

Ok, this is a little boring, but it’s only 1/2 hour lectures - 23 more - and I think this guy might have some really great things to share, so I guess I’ll stick with it for a bit. 

 Having some classroom management issues this year that I’ve never had before.  Partly, I think, because it’s a new school and I’m having trouble figuring some of where administration will help, and partly (I think) because I don’t have as much time to contact parents. 

So I’m going to go about this the way a professor showed me when I was working on my MAT: pick three to five things from each chapter that are worth remembering for YOU.  So here’s my five for Chapter One: Creating Structure that Works.

  1. In the classroom, the teacher is the main authority figure, not the parent.  You can solicit their assistance and support, but since they aren’t going to be calling you to get the kid to do their chores or not stay out past curfew, neither should you be whining about how you can’t get the kid to stay in their seat or stop cussing. (p. 5)
  2. "Support words with effective action if we want children to regard our rules seriously.  Words unsupported by action carry little weight." (p. 7)
  3. "Rules in Theory v. Rules in Practice" (pp. 8-12)
  4. Rules are not the same as expectations.
  5. Some accountability procedures in this section won’t work for me because there is no parent accountability (i.e. parent signatures are often forged with no consequence from the school) and there is no “break time” to take away.  So what could I do to replace those ideas?  I loved the “Fun Friday” activity/makeup day.  Students need that opportunity to get things done or take a break.  But would they be responsible with it?  How would I enforce that?

More to come. 

This is a list of 100 sites for new teachers, but it’s great for everybody, especially for general interest (like PBS) and edu-tech issues.  I had a blast sifting through them all and found some gems!

Chris Tovani has made her newest book available online for preview.  After looking at the first chapter, I’m in.  It looks like it will be really useful in designing instruction the way I’m doing all summer :-)